Herald newspaper editor Tom Sinclair has £70,000 debts

Thomas Sinclair
Image caption Tom Sinclair admitted he had been "a bad businessman"

A newspaper editor who owes thousands of pounds to former staff has treated them "appallingly", a union has said.

Tom Sinclair, who runs The Herald in west Wales, has defied court orders to repay more than £70,000 to creditors.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the way journalists, photographers and local communities were treated was "outrageous".

Mr Sinclair said he "made mistakes" but insisted those he owed money to would be repaid.

One of those owed money by the Herald group, which publishes editions in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Llanelli, is Alan Evans, who is owed more than £6,500.

He pursued Mr Sinclair through the courts and sought to stop him from allowing his company to close in order to avoid paying his debts.

"We have been quite insistent that he can't do that, that he has to file accounts and has to pay his debts before he dissolves the company."

Image caption Alan Evans worked for the Herald in Llanelli and said "time is running out for Tom Sinclair"

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "The Herald has treated its journalists absolutely appallingly. Having to go through the courts to try and seek redress for wages they are owed, for work they have created and produced, in and of itself is disgusting.

"But the fact that despite court judgements they haven't actually been paid what is due to them is particularly repugnant."

Mr Sinclair said he had secured new investment that would allow him to repay everybody - including six former employees - within six months.

He accepted he had been a bad employer but blamed poor business decisions, adding: "We launched a fourth newspaper, the Ceredigion Herald, and really that was a bridge too far for the newspaper group.

"It didn't make money - it lost an awful lot of money - and left us in a situation where almost the whole group collapsed and we would have been left with no newspapers at all.

"We have paid off quite a lot of the staff that were owed money from the past."

His reputation as an editor was dealt a blow when he was convicted of publishing information likely to identify the victim of a sex offence in one of his newspapers.

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